Merve Erdil ISTANBUL
A man lays carnations at the Miners Monument in central Soma, a district in Turkey's western province of Manisa May 14, 2014. REUTERS Photo
Questions have been raised over the mine accident in Soma that left at least 282 people dead, arguing that the country’s poor workplace safety standards stem partly from its failure to ratify the Safety and Health in Mines Convention of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Convention No. 176 was established in 1995 in order to prevent any fatalities, injuries or ill health affecting workers or members of the public, or damage to the environment arising from mining operations.
The convention has been ratified by 28 countries, including the United States, Brazil, Russia, Armenia, Germany and Zimbabwe, but Turkey has refused to recognize the document.
The convention delegates responsibility to governments and the owners of mines with regard to safety and health.
An expert from ILO, Martin Hahn, said the convention consisted of specific measures in mines to solve work safety problems in the sector.
Turkey has signed separate two conventions, No. 155 regarding labor health and safety in 2005 and No. 187 to develop labor health and safety in 2014, Hahn said, adding that the two central agreements establish guidelines on labor health and safety across the country, stressing the importance of recognizing Convention No. 176 for Turkey regarding the active mining sector in the country.
An education specialist from the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-İş), Özan Karabulut, said they had failed in their attempts to have Ankara
ratify the convention, highlighting that employers always consider work safety as a costly element.
Meanwhile, an online petition campaign has been launched to make Turkey sign the convention following the Soma disaster, with over 70,000 signatures having been collected so far.